By  on September 16, 2009

It’s three days before Aretha Franklin makes a pair of rare appearances at Radio City Music Hall (Sept. 17 and 18), but the Queen of Soul is still reminiscing about President Obama’s inauguration. “It was a magnificent moment,” says Franklin, dressed in animal print jersey, Chanel mules and plenty of diamonds while lounging over tea sandwiches in her hotel suite overlooking Central Park. “It just comes along once in a lifetime. [It was that] kind of moment.”

Although Franklin was not pleased with her own shining moment at the ceremony: a spirited rendition of “My Country ’Tis of Thee.” Perhaps her own worst critic, she blames the icy January air and an excited, sleepless night as the reasons behind her unsatisfactory performance. “I should have done what some of the other artists did, and that was to pre-record,” she says. (She went on to release a spectacular studio cut, “Aretha Franklin’s Preferred Version of My Country ’Tis of Thee,” on iTunes in February.)

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